Adventure Two Alternatives to the Stairway to Heaven

Seeking a bit of adventure while visiting or living in Okinawa!
While there's no true replacement for those fitness freaks on Okinawa missing their dose of the approximate 260 grueling steps to the top of the Stairway to Heaven, here are two alternatives that you might enjoy until its reopening, rumored to be sometime in March of 2019, or anytime after for that matter.

Both of these stairways are dwarfed by the Stairway to Heaven, but they will give your quads, hamstrings, calves, and shins (anterior tibialis) a great workout nonetheless.

The Ankle Breaker

I coined this one the Ankle Breaker because of its shorter and higher elevated steps for footing. If you're not careful on this stairway or take it too fast rather, you might trip. I would say to take it at a slower pace and still get a nice burn in.

There are 16 steps on a slight incline to the base of the stairway that has only 75 stairs.

The view at the top, in comparison to the Stairway to Heaven and the below East China Sea Lookout alternative, isn't that great, either.


To make this even more difficult, you can continue on a trail. Trekking shoes or boots would be advised if you choose go farther. If you go alongside the fence at the top—be careful as there's no rail—to the makeshift metal bridge, you'll be faced with cinderblock stairs that'll lead you up to a yellow pole. A steady incline from there, you'll reach some sort of shrine (be respectful and mindful of where you are and leave it how it was when you arrived) where you can turn around and complete the whole journey again. This route will add an additional 225 paces round trip for a total of 300 steps, or more than half that of the Stairway to Heaven.

262 261 266

Don't worry, though. If you do happen to fall and twist an ankle or become dehydrated, you're within a 5-minute walk to Adventist Medical Center for immediate treatment!

Approximate calories burned in one 4-minute slow-paced trip: 25*

East China Sea Lookout

I never really gave this one a name, or even considered at the time, while I was in the Marines in 2007. It was just one of my routines at the time to stay in shape while living in an apartment just down the hill from MCAS Futenma. I'll call it the East China Sea Lookout for now because of its awesome view—one that trumps the Stairway to Heaven, in my opinion. The footing is a lot better in comparison to the Ankle Breaker as well, but there is some slight debris to look out for as it looks somewhat unmaintained.

There are 26 paces in an incline to reach the base of the staircase. Here is a good resting point if you take the "pro" HIIT route.


The staircase features 101 stairs to climb to the top. What a view, though!


Approximate calories burned in one 4-minute slow-paced trip: 25*

Make this more difficult and burn approximately 15 more calories, in addition to the ones on the stairs, by starting at the Family Mart and either running or doing HIIT for 300 meters before reaching the staircase.


Ankle Breaker

East China Sea Lookout

Estimated Calorie Consumption*

Of course, these are estimated calorie consumptions based upon averages, but if you have a tracker dialed in with your height, weight, age and can track your heartbeat, both of these stairways can give you a nice 500+ calorie burn in an hour of ups and downs.

On the plus side, it's not too hot out in Okinawa at the moment so you shouldn't break too much of a sweat!
The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of Okinawa.Org.
About Author
David is the Founder of Okinawa.Org. When he's not busy with business and administrative dealings on the site, he's out looking for the smallest things in the largest areas that may be overlooked by many.


Still will never be as grueling as the Stairway to Heaven. Although, that all depends on how many times you do each route.

It's good to have alternatives and to go out and explore Okinawa though! ;)

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